Crystal structures of pertussis toxin with NAD+ and analogs provide structural insights into the mechanism of its cytosolic ADP-ribosylation activity

J Biol Chem. 2022 May;298(5):101892. doi: 10.1016/j.jbc.2022.101892. Epub 2022 Apr 1.


Bordetella pertussis is the causative agent of whooping cough, a highly contagious respiratory disease. Pertussis toxin (PT), a major virulence factor secreted by B. pertussis, is an AB5-type protein complex topologically related to cholera toxin. The PT protein complex is internalized by host cells and follows a retrograde trafficking route to the endoplasmic reticulum, where it subsequently dissociates. The released enzymatic S1 subunit is then translocated from the endoplasmic reticulum into the cytosol and subsequently ADP-ribosylates the inhibitory alpha-subunits (Gαi) of heterotrimeric G proteins, thus promoting dysregulation of G protein-coupled receptor signaling. However, the mechanistic details of the ADP-ribosylation activity of PT are not well understood. Here, we describe crystal structures of the S1 subunit in complex with nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), with NAD+ hydrolysis products ADP-ribose and nicotinamide, with NAD+ analog PJ34, and with a novel NAD+ analog formed upon S1 subunit crystallization with 3-amino benzamide and NAD+, which we name benzamide amino adenine dinucleotide. These crystal structures provide unprecedented insights into pre- and post-NAD+ hydrolysis steps of the ADP-ribosyltransferase activity of PT. We propose that these data may aid in rational drug design approaches and further development of PT-specific small-molecule inhibitors.

Keywords: AB(5) toxin; ADP-ribosylation; Bordetella; pertussis toxin; whooping cough.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • ADP-Ribosylation
  • Adenosine Diphosphate Ribose / metabolism
  • Bordetella pertussis
  • Cytosol / metabolism
  • NAD* / metabolism
  • Pertussis Toxin / chemistry*
  • Virulence Factors, Bordetella / chemistry*


  • Virulence Factors, Bordetella
  • NAD
  • Adenosine Diphosphate Ribose
  • Pertussis Toxin